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Natural gas doesn’t get enough respect.
Two reports – one on last winter’s outage and another on the future of natural gas – make that clear.
This month independent investigator Michael Johnson verified that February’s natural gas outage, which left 28,707 customers without heat during an arctic blast, unfolded the way New Mexico Gas Company said it did. Fancy that.
The company said at the time that freeze-outs in the Permian and San Juan natural gas basins, combined with rolling blackouts in Texas, kept producers and processing plants from delivering gas into pipelines and allowed pressure in the system to fall.
In the San Juan Basin, 20 percent of gas production was off line because of weather, Johnson reported.
In the Permian Basin, electric outages shut down compressors and plants, which had no other backup.
We now know the company shut off gas to some communities rather than see the whole system go down.
While there were some preventive measures employees might have taken, the circumstances were largely beyond their control.
The state Public Regulation Commission hired Johnson, retired chairman and CEO of Conoco Gas and Power and a New Mexico Aggie geologist, to study the disaster.
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